03 June 2013

3 Ways to Inspire People to Buy Your Book

What thoughts circle around when you think about selling your book? Author platforms? Getting it finished? Getting it started? Querying? Publishers? Agents? Perhaps inspire isn't the first word that comes to mind when you think about selling your book, but no matter where you are in your career, it could be a good time to sneak that one in with the rest. 

"How am I going to sell my book?"

"How am I going to inspire people to buy my book?"

A lot of writers don't know where to start when they think about selling a book or they're VERY concerned about becoming that guy, the creepy sales person, gold necklace, greasy hair. Or worse, that writer, who asks everyone to buy her book over and over on social media, but you never hear what it is about or why you might like it. We're dignified bibliophiles, not the worst stereotype of a used car salesman on a budget lot manifest as a bookwright, right? That part is easy. Don't be a creep. You're probably not a creep now and we can keep it that way.

1. Ask "YOU" questions 

Most conversations with authors start out with "I" statements and bore listeners to tears. In this case, I do mean face to face conversations rather than correspondence online. Often, I find myself wanting to pat authors on the back and say, "I mean, it's really great that you wrote a book and thanks for reciting its synopsis verbatim, but why did you think I would be interested or did you forget I was sitting here with you?" Other authors will start the conversation by telling me that I wouldn't like what they wrote and even tell me what the genre might be. And I'm like, "HUH? Is it because of my hair style?" No matter who you're talking to about your book, you need to engage them, get to know them as a reader and inspire them. This is process that can take many directions and gets easier with practice. 

My book is about [insert synopsis here].

Do you find much time to read? Have you ever read any science fiction? 

You probably wouldn't like it. 

What authors have you read? Do you have any friends who read science fiction? Do you know who they like? And what about you?

Each conversation you have about your book should be about the reader's interests and how your book fits in with them. While they may not be likely to buy or read your book - perhaps they prefer romance and you write horror - you can leave them with enough understanding of what your book is about that it might spark a connection with someone they know at work, a friend or someone in their family. Who knows? The worse that can happen from a good conversation is that they go to someone and say, "Oh, I met this horror author who writes that terrible stuff that you just LOVE!" Because? Inspiration travels. 

Another way to use "YOU" questions to your advantage is to post them on social media. Of course everyone wants to know what you had for breakfast and what temperature your coffee is now, but asking "YOU" questions can engage people.

I'm drinking very expensive coffee with important people today.

What is your favorite coffee drink? Who did you share it with? I think I just had my best coffee moment today.

2. Find common ground

The main reason why a good number of people don't want to buy your book is not because they don't understand it or they don't have good taste, but it is because they don't know anyone else who has read it. We are intensely social creatures, us humans. We want to spend our time doing things that make us feel connected and part of specific social groups. We want to hear our own ideas and values expressed in what we read. We do not want to find ourselves sitting on a plane, reading a book and look over at an unpleasant smelly guy with the political button and religious necklace from the groups we are most uncomfortable with turning the pages and relishing the same book as us. In general, readers want to read the same books as the people they identify with or want to identify with.

How can an author incorporate this inalienable truth of human nature to inspire more people to read? By getting more social. I don't mean transform from an introvert into an extrovert. I mean that you can show people why reading your book now is a great idea for them...socially.

My book is popular with single women ages 34-49 who live alone and have more than 2 cats.

Do you like animals? The heroine of my story past college age, but hasn't settled down or had kids yet. She has a black cat named Mortimer. 

It's not really popular with YOUR group

You might not like it, because there is a bit of sex/violence/religion/supernatural phenomena in my story that normally turns a few people off, but it's certainly not the focus. You could give it a try and let me know.   

"Where would the Twilight series - written with the YA crowd in mind - be without the forty something crowd?"

Yep. Never exclude a potential reader. Just keep the conversation open and let them decide.

Maintain awareness of who you are talking with when you explain why your book is worth reading. If they only read popular books or books in their book club, don't push it if you're selling a eBook with a circulation of less than two hundred. Aim for early adopters. Early book adopters that is. Find someone who enjoys discovering and sharing a new book or likes knowing obscure facts and information about not commonly read works. These people may be more interested in giving your work a first glance.

3. Give them a reason to buy it now (rather than later)

Having a sale is not about the price of the book. Seriously, this is such an important statement that I'm going to type it again: having a sale is not about the price of the book. A sale only gives people a reason to buy it now rather than later. And that is crucial to giving people a reason to buy now. 

How many times have you gone into a bookstore and seen a book you wanted, but you didn't buy it? Hah! I know, right? I can't carry that many books even. Maybe you had other books you wanted more. Perhaps, you thought that the book looked great, but knew you could always buy it later...

And that is when book sales come in. And limited editions. And signed copies. Every special offer needs to be set for a limited duration so that people who are already interested have an incentive to choose your book over everything else that they could buy. If you're talking to them directly, give them a discount if they buy one for a friend. If they have a book club, offer a book club price.

Inspiring people to read your book is about helping them unearth the reasons they, specifically, would benefit from purchasing or checking out your book right now. So, just remember the word inspire, because whether or not they make a purchase that day, you can still leave them feeling good about you, your work and themselves, too. 


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